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Thursday, December 12, 2019

President Donald Trump has signed off on a mini-trade deal with China, two people familiar with the negotiations said on Thursday, marking another trade victory he can tout as he faces impeachment led by House Democrats. read more


On Martin Luther King Drive, JC Kosher Supermarket had become the center of a small but growing Hasidic community. The store, which some residents endearingly referred to as no more than a bodega, was where the Jews who lived in the neighborhood would go if they forgot to pack a lunch or needed some groceries before Shabbat. read more


A fire broke out on Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, injuring as many as 12 crew members, in the latest mishap to plague the Soviet-built vessel.

The blaze started in the ship's power plant while the vessel was moored at the Arctic port of Murmansk for an overhaul. The fire spread to an area of as much as 600 square meters (6,500 square feet), Russian media reports said.


Fox News host Chris Wallace delivered a vehement critique of President Trump on Wednesday, accusing him of engaging in the most "direct sustained assault" on the free press in U.S. history, The Guardian reports.

Why it matters: Wallace's comments come amid a schism between Fox News' daytime anchors, who have largely stuck to straight news reporting, and primetime opinion hosts, who tend to fervently defend the president.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Federal prosecutors asked a judge on Tuesday to grant probation to President Donald Trump's former deputy campaign chairman Richard Gates when he is sentenced next week, pointing to Gates' extensive cooperation in multiple criminal investigations. read more


Comments

Op-Ed...

In Bill Barr, Trump Has a Roy Cohn Upgrade
www.nytimes.com

...President Trump famously asked, "Where's my Roy Cohn?" Demanding a stand-in for his old personal lawyer and fixer, Mr. Trump has actually gotten something better with Bill Barr: a lawyer who like Cohn stops seemingly at nothing in his service to Mr. Trump and conveniently sits atop the nation's Justice Department.

Mr. Barr has acted more like a henchman than the leader of an agency charged with exercising independent judgment. The disturbing message that sends does not end at our borders " it extends to countries, like those in the former East Bloc, struggling to overcome an illiberal turn in the direction of autocracy.

When Mr. Trump sought to have President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine announce an investigation of his political opponent, he likely expected a positive response. After all, politicized prosecutions had been part of Ukraine's corrupt political culture for years.

On Monday, when Michael Horowitz, inspector general for the Justice Department, released a report that affirmed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was justified, Mr. Barr immediately turned on his own agency in defense of the president.

"The F.B.I. launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken," he said.

Similarly, Mr. Barr's response to the report from Robert Mueller on Russian interference and Mr. Trump's purported presidential misconduct was to cast doubt on his own staff, questioning their work product as well as their ethics and legal reasoning. Even before he became attorney general, Mr. Barr questioned Mr. Mueller's investigation of the president for obstruction of justice in a 19-page legal memo he volunteered to the administration.

And where he could have neutrally passed Mr. Mueller's findings to Congress, he instead took the widely criticized and unusual step of making and announcing his own legal conclusions about Mr. Mueller's obstruction inquiry. He followed up this Cohn-like behavior with testimony in the Senate, where he insinuated that the United States government spied on the Trump campaign. Mr. Barr apparently has decided that, like Cohn, he serves Donald Trump and not the Constitution or the United States, flouting his oath of office and corrupting the mission of the Justice Department. ...


... I respect the office and understand just how tough the job can be. But recently, Attorney General William P. Barr has made a series of public statements and taken actions that are so plainly ideological, so nakedly partisan and so deeply inappropriate for America's chief law enforcement official ...

So I'm not the only one to notice.

Some things these past few days/weeks added to my list of concerns about AG Barr.

The first was AG Barr's comment on Mr Durham's investigation, that it would end next summer. It is quite odd for an AG to put a time limit on such an investigation. It almost looks as if AG Barr is using the timing of the investigation to affect 2020 voting (meaning he knows the outcome already), since the summer before the election is a critical time for swaying voters.

The second was AG Barr's appointee, Mr Durham, who made the most unusual statement about an ongoing investigation, and using such a statement to dismiss the IG report. I am more accustomed to seeing the statement from investigators, "we do not comment upon ongoing investigations," not the overtly political statement Mr Durham made.

Then there is the trip to Europe Mr Durham and AG Barr made recently to dig up more evidence. Did they bribe questionable individuals there with lenience for US charges against them, if those individuals would fabricate evidence? Mr Giuliani seems to have blazed the trail for that line of evidence collecting.

Add the above to all the other things he has done as Pres Trump's personal attorney (and not the AG of the people of the United States), and my level of concern rises significantly.


@#1 ... How much Israeli intel did the dotard spill this time? ...

It remains to be seen.

Here's what happened as a result of the last Oval Office party Pres Trump threw for the Russians...

Horrified' Israeli intel officials were shouting at US counterparts' over Trump leak
www.timesofisrael.com

...US President Donald Trump's reported sharing of a highly classified Israeli tip with Russia led to incredibly tense meetings between Israeli and American intelligence officials, Foreign Policy Magazine reported Friday.

The Israelis reportedly shouted at their US counterparts, demanding an explanation for Trump's actions, according to the magazine, which quoted a US defense official.

"To them, it's horrifying," the official said. "Their first question was: What is going on? What is this?'" ...


@#1

It looks like the person shall remain nameless, at least for now. A quick spin through the search engines did not reveal anything. Though it seems also to have caught the interest of others...

Prosecutors: Mueller Witness Whose Testimony Doomed Manafort Was Offered Money Not to Cooperate
lawandcrime.com

...
Elie Honig @eliehonig

Holy crap. According to federal prosecutors, Gates was promised "monetary assistance" if he did not cooperate? By who?? That's a lay-down-your-hand obstruction case. twitter.com ...

Tom Winter @Tom_Winter

BREAKING / NBC News: Federal prosecutors say Paul Manafort's business partner and former Trump campaign staffer Rick Gates should get probation citing his cooperation.

They say Gates was pressured not to cooperate and received assurance of "monetary assistance" if he didn't.
4,372
12:42 PM - Dec 10, 2019




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